Whiskey Tango Foxtrot half marathon – Greensboro, NC (2016)

Time to play catch up… I’m now 4 races behind, so I’m going to try to catch up on my crazy 5 weeks of races! 

With Leap Day this year, I was hoping to find a Leap Day-inspired race, but the only one I was able to scrounge up on the internet was a semi-official run in Oregon, but in my searches, I came across this race outside of Greensboro, NC which promised some awesome WTF swag for finishing. The premise was two-fold – the race was partially on the foxtrot trail in Northeast Park and in order to get to that trail, you had to cross a stream, in February, in North Carolina which would leave most people asking what you were thinking. We had several weeks of on-again, off-again rain leading up to the race, so starting about a week before the race, the race director sent emails letting us know that they were keeping an eye on the stream level and would make a decision about the actual course as we got closer to the race. By mid-week, the stream had lowered to about knee-level, but with a few more storms Thursday and Friday, we were back to a 5′ creek crossing which meant we would not be taking on the foxtrot trail. Instead, we took about 3/4 of a mile to get to the loop which we did 3 times and then headed back to the start line. 

The race had more people lining up at the start than I expected, though the first trail run I did this year only had 72 finishers, so the 225 lined up for this race looked huge! The first 3/4 of a mile we were able to spread out a bit, but it did turn into a single track trail for our 3 loops, so there were a few parts that were hard to pass people, but the crowd quickly thinned out. I actually struggled a bit at the beginning of the race with my calves hurting quite a bit in the first 4 miles. I think my biggest issue was that the course was actually too runnable for me – I was running at a decent pace, but the hills were very small and rolling, so I wasn’t feeling like I should stop and walk which meant my calves took the brunt of that decision. Since it was a looped course, the leaders started passing me on the second loop and you could hear a chorus of runners announcing that they were coming up from behind us. I ended up finishing 10th in my age group at 2:42:32. The finishers medal and sweatshirt were awesome! 

It was a nice late-winter day, but after the run, I didn’t stick around the post-race festivities too long. I still had about a 2 hour drive home and the wind was making me cold. They had a few snacks available, but it was clear the earlier finishers cleaned out a lot of the food – there was still some chili left and a couple of random granola bars and I heard one of the RD’s say they had ordered more pizza, but I decided I would go ahead and start my trip back to Charlotte. I was sore the day or two after this race, and I know trail runs are going to be harder on me than road races since I haven’t done as many and you definitely use muscles differently during trail running, but I’m also falling in love with the trails – it’s always a lot of fun and racing in the woods is just so different than on the roads where you have to worry about cars, potholes and over-crowded streets.

High Shoals Half Marathon – Connelly Springs, NC (2016)

This was my second year starting my running season off with a trail run. Last year I did the Charlotte Running Company’s trail run at the Whitewater Center and last weekend I upped the ante by doing a half marathon at South Mountain State Park put on by Table Rock Ultras. There was a marathon and a half marathon option, with the marathoners starting off 30 minutes before the half. I’ve hiked these trails, going to the top of the waterfall twice, and this is not an easy hike, let alone trying to run it.


The first section of the race started out on the road and helped spread out the runners a bit, with a short, steep uphill, then fairly flat and a little downhill before turning left into the woods and heading up. There were a lot of switchbacks in this section, but still enough room to pass people when needed. There was also a nice downhill section that lead back to the parking lot before heading onto the main trail and up towards the waterfall – so many stairs! 

The weather held off for most of the morning, originally calling for rain, but just ended up being misty and foggy through the second half of the course. 

  • Mile 1 – 13:15
  • Mile 2 – 10:17
  • Mile 3 – 19:23
  • Mile 4 – 15:01
  • Mile 5 – 16:31
  • Mile 6 – 14:12
  • Mile 7 – 15:36
  • Mile 8 – 15:36
  • Mile 9 – 12:29
  • Mile 10 – 11:51
  • Mile 11 – 14:54
  • Mile 11 – 16:15
  • Mile 12 – 8:50
  • Last .15 – 10:50
Official time: 2:49:48

I ended up coming in 6th female in my age group (30-39) and 8th female overall. I was trying really hard to catch up to the two women in front of me who ended up being in my age group (of course!), but they ended up beating me by a good 20 seconds. After the race, I caught up with a few people who I had talked to before the race, changed into warm clothes, grabbed some food and watched the first marathoner finishers come in just under the 4 hour mark. 

Overall, I really liked this course – it was really well organized, there were great course markings at each turn and it was a nice small crowd. The marathoners and half marathoners were on the same trails for parts of the race, but even being in the middle of the pack for the half marathoners, I only saw 3-4 of the lead marathoners heading the opposite way on a single-track trail, and the trails were never too crowded. There were 3 water crossings on the course. There has been a lot of rain in North Carolina lately, so the water levels were probably a little higher than normal, but I was mostly able to stay on the rocks and only got into the water up to my ankles. There were some people who avoided the rocks altogether – they were slick with the misty morning and some folks chose to go knee – thigh deep into the water instead of risking the rocks. I decided to take it slow and stayed on the rocks and never felt like I was going to lose my footing, but it’s definitely something to consider for a January race in the mountains. 

The race shirts are awesome and as part of the race packet, you got free socks from DaFeet and all finishers got arm warmers and a car sticker with the same logo that’s on the t-shirt.

I also broke the cardinal rule of racing and tried out a new pair of shoes on race day. I ordered a pair of Salomon X-Scream shoes from Ragnar (woo Orange shoes!) and tested them out by walking around the neighborhood in them for two days before deciding that they were a better option than my Hoka One Ones that have been giving me ankle trouble since this summer. I didn’t have any major issues with the shoes, though I do think I’m going to try a different pair of inserts in them as I started to have a little arch pain in my left foot near the end of the race. 

Even though I was sore for the rest of the weekend, it was a great way to start off race season and I’ve already signed up for another trail race for next month!